The Power of Collective Philanthropic Giving

By Amelia Blades Steward

When Amanda David, Michele Lowe, and Karen Gadson of St. Michaels decided to found Women Who Care Talbot County, their goals were for women in Talbot County to meet and get to know other women who have a shared interest in the health and vitality of our community; learn about different local nonprofits; experience the satisfaction of being a philanthropist and making a difference; and participate in something that’s high impact, low effort, and inspiring to others.

Founders of Women Who Care Talbot County are Michele Lowe (left), Amanda David, and Karen Gadson of St. Michaels. The organization seeks to create a local group of motivated women who are committed to the power of collective philanthropic giving.

The mission of Women Who Care Talbot County is driven by a desire to make a difference in the local community. Inspired by hundreds of like-minded groups across the country and the world, the organization seeks to create a local group of motivated women who are committed to the power of collective philanthropic giving.

The Women Who Care giving model began in 2006 in Jackson, Michigan, by Karen Dunigan as a simple way to quickly raise money for a local charity in need of baby cribs for economically challenged mothers. She rallied her network of friends and assembled a group of 100 women. Each woman wrote a check for $100 directly to the charity. In one hour, they raised over $10,000 to buy 300 new cribs. When Karen realized how easy it was to raise money for this cause, the idea of 100+ Women Who Care was born.

Of the Talbot County group, Amanda said, “We hoped to have 80 members by our first meeting in September 2023, but instead, we had 134. That number has now grown to 152 women today.”

Women Who Care Talbot County brings women together for one hour, three times a year, although you need not attend in person to be a fully participating member. Each member who joins commits $100 per meeting for a total of $300 annually. Women aged 35 and under may contribute a lesser amount of $50 three times a year. With its current membership of 152, the group could collectively raise $15,200 per meeting, allowing it to give out $45,600 annually to three nonprofits. And that will continue to increase as membership grows.

Members of Women Who Care Talbot County submit nonprofit names into a fishbowl for each of the three annual meetings and three are randomly selected and vetted. To be eligible for funding, nonprofits must be located in and serve Talbot County, be fiscally stable, and they need to have been in existence for at least two years and demonstrate fiscal stability. Each nonprofit must then complete and submit a Nonprofit Fact Sheet and Application that is shared with all members in advance of each meeting.

The three nonprofits are then invited to attend the next meeting and make a brief presentation sharing why the group’s contribution should go to them and how they will use the funds. Members can ask questions of each organization at that meeting. Following the presentations, the members of Women Who Care Talbot County vote by ballot for the nonprofit they find most compelling. Members not in attendance can vote with absentee ballots. Votes are then tallied, and members are asked to write a $100 check or donate online directly to the nonprofit receiving the majority of votes (all contributions are 100% eligible for an income tax charitable deduction). A total of three nonprofits are funded each year.

“And that literally was the resounding concept – the ease of it. But it is also about the impact we can create. And that’s been really exciting,” comments Karen.

Nonprofits that are funded cannot come back for another two years, but the nonprofits that are not chosen can be put back into the fishbowl again and again.

“Even the organizations that are not selected have an influx of positive support afterward,” adds Amanda. “It’s very moving to see the difference our pooled resources make for the nonprofits we select.”

“We were thrilled to be chosen by the Women Who Care Talbot County for the CarePacks Talbot County program. Our food costs continue to escalate as the need increases among children in our county. These funds are helping us to continue to meet these unmet needs. Women pooling their philanthropic resources is an effective tool to help make the quality of life better for families here,” comments Megan Cook, co-founder of CarePacks Talbot County with Emily Moody.

For Amanda, Michele, and Karen, their efforts have been rewarded tenfold since starting the organization.

“When I got home from our first meeting, I just cried. There was such energy among our members. For so long, I have had a desire to help organize or contribute to various non-profits in my community in this manner and I was so excited to see it come to fruition,” comments Michele.

Karen adds, “It has surpassed our expectations. I think what I was so surprised by was the number of nonprofits in Talbot County doing amazing work. This is also a great door opener for our members to get involved as volunteers for these organizations.”

Each funded nonprofit is asked to share an update on the impact of member giving at a future meeting, which not only is great stewardship but also an important opportunity for members to learn about the range of work being done to support community needs.

“One of the additional benefits has been educating our community on the work that a lot of people are doing in the trenches. The presentations make you realize just how impactful these organizations are in our communities and how important our funds are to sustaining their work,” Amanda states.

The first organization to be funded by Women Who Care Talbot County was Talbot Interfaith Shelter in Easton. The next was CarePacks of Talbot County. On May 13 at 5:30 p.m., For All Seasons, Tilghman Area Youth Association, and Mid-Shore Early Learning Center will each present and one will be selected by majority vote. Women Who Care Talbot County members meet in September, January, and May.

“I’ve been excited to see the wonderful mix of women who are making the time and commitment to come, listen, and engage,” Amanda adds.

“The three of us are proud of where Women Who Care Talbot County is today and are confident we will continue to grow and make a meaningful difference in the important work of area nonprofits and our community at large,” Amanda adds.

For further information, visit www.100womentalbot.org or email Amanda David at amanda.david@edwardjones.com or 100womentalbot@gmail.com.

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